What is Permanent and Total Disability?
Total disability and permanent disability are two separate criteria that the VA considers. A Veteran can be totally disabled, but the disability may be temporary or permanent.
The VA considers a Veteran’s disability to be permanent when the medical evidence indicates that you will have the disability for the remainder of your life. Age can be a factor in the VA deciding whether a disability is considered permanent. As a result, younger Veterans may have more of a challenge obtaining a Permanent designation for their service-connected disability.
You may have one severe service-related disability or several service-connected disabilities that lead to a 100 percent VA disability rating.
The VA deems a disability to be total when the service-connected injury or impairment of body or mind leaves the Veteran unemployable or unable to maintain substantially gainful employment. Being awarded Total Disability as a result of Individual Unemployability provides for payment at the 100 percent rating. Substantial gainful employment is work that produces earnings above the poverty level.
A total disability may not necessarily be permanent. For instance, a Veteran can have a temporary total disability due to surgery or a combined total rating before improving and dropping down to a lower percentage.
Likewise, a Veteran can have a permanent disability that is not total. To qualify for a 100 percent P&T compensation rating, your service-related disability must meet the criteria to qualify as both permanent and total.
When these separate benefits combine, it creates a special status for the Veteran’s disability compensation. Veterans with a permanent and total rating will usually not be scheduled for a reexamination, the primary means by which rating reductions are initiated. If the VA did try to reduce your rating, the VA would have to show material and sustained improvement in your condition.
Certain types of service-connected disabilities automatically are deemed to support a VA rating of Permanent and Total Disability. They include the irreversible loss of use of both hands, both feet, one hand, and one foot, loss of vision in both eyes, or the Veteran being permanently bedridden.
Other conditions such as a diagnosis of cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other health issues may receive a 100 percent disability rating during a period of incapacity. But not be made permanent because of the possibility of medical improvement.
A 100 percent total disability rating is difficult to obtain. Permanent and total are two separate criteria. That is important to keep in mind.
If you disagree with your VA disability rating and wish to appeal the determination, talk to an accredited VA disability benefits lawyer at Berry Law.